Thursday, October 09, 2008

“Advertising? Naah!”

4Ps B&M's Monojit Lahiri attempts a checkout to this disturbing phenomenon of kids moving away...

Creative. Fun-biz. Arty. Glamorous. Culture-specific. Intellectual. Cerebral. Idea-driven. Business/market-friendly. Life-enhancing… Advertising has always spawned a zillion descriptions and definitions. It was that rare calling that fused mystique with market-forces in one magical sweep. It was that rare profession that embraced both the pin-striped B-School types and the bindas Art-College guys without hiccups or hassles. It was that rare career-path that attracted the brightest and best creative minds, desperate to be liberated from the stereotypical jobs (Law, Engineering, Medicine, Bank, Government) available in the market to explore avenues that informed, engaged, entertained, even empowered. Whatever happened to that magnetic pull? Why is Adland losing its allure as a desirable career-destination? What has triggered this deadly drought?

Motorola’s Senior Director, Sales and Distribution (India and South West Asia), Lloyd Mathias is convinced that it has to do with the slew of alternative career-choices available (on a silver platter) to today’s bright kids. “Where were the choices, even a decade and a half ago? It was all so closed, restricted and stereotypical. Also, tradition and convention played a much bigger part, so one usually followed the path that was safer and risk-free. Today the spread available allows for more adventuring,” shares Mathias. He also believes that money plays a huge part in this dramatic re-alignment, “The kind of packages that fresh B-School grads are offered can be mind-blowing.” Finally, he points to a distinct lack of iconic and inspirational leaders whose vision and values prompted, persuaded and motivated an earlier generation to go for it. “Today, it appears to be an each-for-himself and god-for-all situation! It’s more individual personalities – than team – that are celebrated. Maybe it defines the times we live in…,” he adds.

Sid Roy, Executive Director of the Kolkata- based Ad Agency, Response agrees, “In these consumer-driven times, bright new-age kids, confronting the perils of peer-pressure every day, fall victims to the big-bucks syndrome. Quite natural. The options. The packages… and most importantly what it promises them in terms of lifestyle statements… no Ad Agency job can touch that! Also, the profile of this new-gen – unlike the previous one – is different. It’s about impatience, speed and now! Experience and Gray-haired eminence has been buried. It’s performance today that matters! How the work impacts bottom lines!” Roy believes that while all of this is not a bad thing, it has led to “a generation of net-literate, Googled, book-illiterate types. A constituency that lacks vision, values or wisdom and hopes to compensate by getting all of life’s answers through the Internet. Scary!”

McCann’s Sandip Mahapatra brings his own original spin to the subject. He believes that the once hallowed space reserved for all kids who didn’t fit into the mainstream job-scene has now fragmented into many pieces, each offering juicy, exciting and lucrative bites. “So the whackos don’t only have Advertising Agencies to fall back upon where their creativity is concerned. There are movies, TV channels, music channels, designing shops along with a million niche outfits catering to their creative skills, so why will they make a beeline for Adland? That special Calling Card – which involved charisma and mystique – no longer exists in its exclusive, pristine grandeur anymore,” expresses Mahapatra. He dismisses the popular contention of money being the biggest deterrent in Adbiz with, “If the business was so paranoid about it, you can bet they would damn well do something about it! It’s not about not getting good guys, but about not needing good guys!” He decodes his (shocker?) thinking for easy consumption. “The kind of importance, dependence and significance once invested in a servicing person has totally disappeared,” explains Mahapatra. Why? Because there are today specialised vendors to do jobs – previously assigned to him to oversee – that can be accessed directly with quality, speed at a lesser budget. In short, the new-age client is a different creature and so is the new-age vendor. So, what great value addition can the Ad Agency provide?

Senior ad professional, Esha Guha is thoughtful. “I wish I could really place my finger on that one critical reason… I guess it has to be a compendium of all suggested. However, a reason could be the disappearance of fun, magic and the brand of excitement which only Advertising offered. Earlier, it didn’t have computers and jargons, but had a galaxy of amazing, magical people who, brought life, colour, zing and chutzpah to a calling that was meant to be nothing more than marketing’s hand-maiden,” explains Guha. She believes that while focus, sophistication & technology have transformed the markets’ cape, with competition adding to it, somewhere “the heart has gone out of the hurrahs! Its cold, calculated and clinical atmosphere in the workplace, where emotional or creative leeway is neither required, understood or entertained. “In our time it was celebrated. No wonder, as someone brilliantly put it, the Merchants have taken over from the Magicians… Ah well, the price of progress I guess,” Guha shares. Darr gaya? C’mon guys , chill……. Darna Mana hai because DARR K AAGE JEET HAI, remember?!


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